Kingspan Timber – the better way to build?

A question that precedes any successful development is “What method to use for the build?” And as you know, there are a few.

The most popular of these is brick and block; that is, blocks on the inside, bricks on the outside, and the gap filled with insulation. But of course, this isn’t the only method.

To find out more about a different way – one that is said to be faster – Affirmative’s Richard Scull went on a tour of the Kingspan Timber Solutions factory, near Selby. Kingspan builds using its own method of timber panels and we were curious to learn more about the benefits.

Kingspan Timber Solutions – benefits of timber frames

With over 50 years in the business, Kingspan have had the chance to build properties in all kinds of sectors, including residential, education and hospitality and leisure. But no matter where they end up, many structures begin life in the factory, where the frames are made.

Timber frame builds are extremely popular. According to some industry experts nearly 22 per cent of all new homes are built using this method. Why?

One reason might be that in this method the timber frame acts as a superstructure and supports the entire building without internal load-bearing walls. But there are other reasons property builders seem to be looking at this option. Let us explain.

Found in the factory

Insulation – This construction allows the boards to be connected at the joints, and this creates an airtight space between walls, roofs, and timber beams. What’s more, they consist of two outer wood layers with an inner core of a specialised material, and the bonding of these together provides greater insulation.

Speed of construction – Of course, the panelised nature of the construction gives a speed boost over traditional bricks and mortar build – in part because once it’s up the structure is protected with a waterproof membrane or cover, and follow-on trades can start their work sooner.

Waste and environment – The factory environment helps to reduce waste – all the kits are designed, cut and palletised with the environment in mind. For example, the insulating core mentioned previously is made of a material with zero ozone depletion potential (ODP).

So far, so good. But does the timber method really work in practice?

Does it stand up?  

Recently Kingspan won a contract with Center Parcs to help in building a £250m resort. The task? Build 625 lodges and 159 saunas in dense woodland terrain — in 10 months.

Over seven million nails later, they succeeded in completing the project and did so on time. Their own case study details how much precision went into pulling of this feat. But does this success mean it is always the right way to build?

Generally speaking, no system of construction is always better than another. That might be because the requirements of a project and the preferences of the builder, or other factors such as the location and constraints of the site mean that one way is the more feasible.

That said, although timber frames may be little more expensive the additional investment gives advantages in terms of insulation, speed of construction, zero site waste and the environment to name a few.

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